What Happened to my ClipArt? How a Corporate Solution became a Teacher’s Problem
One of our teachers recently reached out to me and told me about an incident he had in his computer lab. Unless you have time to read Microsoft’s press releases, you might be unaware that the Office software on your computer has been updated from the old ClipArt search to a Bing search. I was appalled by his story and immediately went online to research the issue. At The Teacher’s Academy, we are constantly looking for opportunities to help educate teachers and work to keep the computer lab experience safe and educational. It is our goal to educate teachers on the changes happening “out there” that affect your class. This is a big one and we feel obligated to tell his story.
So, ClipArt uses Bing to do its Search…What’s the Worst that could Happen?
As a culminating project on my five senses unit, I took my first graders down to the computer lab where we were going to add ClipArt to a pre-formatted template that I created in Word. I’ve done this several times in the past and the students love searching for pictures, changing the format, adding effects and of course changing the colors. After a few minutes of getting the students logged in and the templates pulled up, we were ready to go. Here’s how it went:
Teacher: “Okay, class… What might be a good search-word to find a picture about the sense of smell?”
Teacher: “Yes! I agree. Go ahead and type that in the ClipArt search bar: N-O-S-E. Now press Enter.”
Class: “AHHHHHHH!!” (Shocked faces followed by laughter and quiet secrets to friends ensued.)
As I walked around to peer over their shoulders, I saw plainly what the uproar was all about. In the past, when we typed a word into ClipArt, you got a piece of cartoon art. The project called for nothing more than something simple, innocent. These images were perfect for lessons, posters, letters, tests, and of course student work. ClipArt was a place I could send my students to quickly access a sweet image for their projects. I say was because the ClipArt gallery, as I knew it for my students, is no longer a place I can take them. Now, when my students type in the word, “nose,” they get the following images of picking your nose, bloody noses, nose moles and more.
Don’t believe me? Try it yourself! Here’s a screen shot of this blog that I’m writing right now and I did the ClipArt search for nose. Remember, this is what first graders saw. I’m sure they will be fine, but their parents? (I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that phone call!) 🙂
Here’s what I can’t do.
Well for starters, you’d think the obvious solution would be to “uncheck” the Include Bing content box. I tried that. No results appear if you uncheck that box. You must use Bing. You also can’t alter the Results should be drop down options. Notice in the image above, Illustrations is the only option checked. Yet, photos are the majority result.
Next, I did a little research online in hopes to find a forum to complain. Generally, I’ve found that corporations listen to the masses. It turns out, Microsoft Office has a blog regarding this change, and teachers are not alone in our frustration with the Bing ClipArt. Comments and feedback show public employers who use ClipArt for presentations are also frustrated with the change. Excited for a place to vent and tell my teacher’s story, I was dismayed to discover that Microsoft has turned off the comments section of their blog.
OK. So what CAN I do?
Our current option is to educate ourselves, our peers, our administrators, and our parents about the issue. Whether you are a teacher in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Texas or anywhere in this great nation, get in front of the issue and be the school that is aware of the change and working proactively to protect and educate the students. Next, you do what you’ve always done when government, corporations or other entities have put an obstacle in your path that makes your job a little harder…. Invent resourceful, outside the box solutions to the problem. After some discussion with teachers, we’ve come up with a few ideas, perhaps one will work with your school. Perhaps you have another one to share. Feel free to comment and let us know. As always, at The Teacher’s Academy, we are teachers serving teachers!
- Prior to your lesson, search for images that your students will want to use. Create a folder and store them there. This folder of images will grow with every unit you teach. (It will also be available if the internet connection goes down!)
- Have you ever really looked at ClipArt? It’s nothing more than a combination of shapes grouped together. Use Microsoft Office Shapes to create your own images. If you create the image in Publisher, you can save the image as a .jpeg.
- Check out these online ClipArt options. Send students here or download them to a local folder.
This is not the worst issue we will ever face, but it’s a big one and a reminder of our responsibility as educators to keep the computer lab a safe environment for all students. For more information and to earn professional development hours while learning about creating a safe technology learning experience, check out our courses, Internet Research, Cyber Safety and Social Media and Cyber Bullying Facts and Prevention.
The Teacher’s Academy specializes in providing teachers the opportunity to earn professional development through researching the latest trends in education. Thank you, teachers, for sharing your experiences with us so that we may reach out and share your stories and ideas with the nation. Visit The Teacher’s Academy for more blogs, ideas and all of your professional development needs.